The former Brazilian football star Dani Alves has been sentenced to four years and six months in prison after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman at a nightclub in Barcelona. The verdict was delivered by a three-judge panel in a Barcelona court following a three-day trial earlier this month. Alves, 40, has denied any wrongdoing and has the right to appeal the decision.

The court found that Alves sexually assaulted the victim in the early hours of December 31, 2022, in a bathroom of an upscale nightclub in Barcelona. State prosecutors had sought a nine-year prison sentence for Alves, while the lawyers representing the accuser requested a 12-year sentence. Alves’s defense had requested his acquittal or, if found guilty, a one-year sentence along with €50,000 compensation for the victim.

Alves has been in custody since his detention on January 20. His requests for bail were denied due to concerns that he might flee the country. Brazil, his home country, does not extradite its citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.

During the trial, the victim testified that she had danced with Alves and willingly entered the nightclub bathroom, but later, when she wanted to leave, he prevented her from doing so. She alleged that Alves slapped her, insulted her, and forced her to engage in sexual activity against her will.

Alves initially denied any sexual contact with the victim but later admitted to consensual sexual relations. He claimed that he had been trying to save his marriage by not admitting to the encounter initially. His defense also attempted to argue that he was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

The conviction marks a significant fall from grace for Alves, who was one of football’s most successful players. Throughout his career, he won numerous titles with elite clubs such as Barcelona, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain. He also achieved success with the Brazilian national team, winning two Copa América titles and an Olympic gold medal. However, this conviction tarnishes his legacy and highlights the serious consequences of his actions.

Alves was playing for the Mexican club Pumas at the time of his arrest, and his contract was terminated immediately following the news of his conviction.

This case is notable as it is one of the first high-profile sex crimes to be prosecuted under Spain’s revamped legislation, which places greater emphasis on consent in defining sexual offenses. The overhaul came in response to public outcry following a gang-rape case during the San Fermín bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.